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Teaching Mithila art through a local arts education curriculum: the development of the lessons



This article briefly explains the development and focus of Mithila art lesson planning, from Grade one to five, for the development of a local arts education curriculum in Nepal (click here to read the introduction on the Mithila art local curriculum in Nepal). To start, a Mithila art workshop with female Mithila artists/painters was organized to generate information and background context for the lessons (click here to learn more about the process notes). Based on the collected information, a skeleton of lesson plans, in terms of content and artwork was prepared. It was further shared with the teachers, scholars, journalists, youth, and NGOs for their review and feedback. Incorporating all the information, the final lessons for teaching Mithila art were then prepared.

In this process, attention was given to the practical application of Mithila art, and to honouring the traditional art form, as well as how it is developing including modern adaptations. Mithila art is grounded in religious practices including the marriage of Sita (from Hindu religious traditions), and in cotemporary forms it can be a tool for creative social transformation. After finalizing the content of the lessons, a professional team of Mithila artists worked together with young female Mithila artists to produce a variety of artworks presented below.

Grade wise lesson plans

Grade 1

Students of Grade one will learn the history of Mithila art and its connection with nature. Scholars believe that the history of Mithila art originates with the history of the Mithila region. Therefore, this lesson principally focuses on teaching the history of the Mithila region, and connecting it with its people and nature, for example trees, birds, animals and so on.

Mithila art 1; Artist credit: Mrs. Ruby Pathak and team

In the classroom, the teacher begins with a simple question, for example, ‘What comes to your mind when you think about Mithila art?’ ‘How is it related to the history of Mithila region?’  A couple of illustrative Mithila arts have been prepared for this lesson. The first art (see Mithila art-1) depicts the birth of goddess Janaki, daughter of the Mithila kingdom, and a variety of animals that are often shown in Mithila arts, for example a peacock, which is symbolic of love. The second art presents a cheerful Mithila young woman in a pond, showing the bond between humans and nature in the ancient Mithila region.

Grade 2

This lesson teaches students about the tools and materials that people have been using from the past to paint Mithila art. This lesson also explains the evolving process of Mithila art, originally created as floor paintings to modern times as a canvas painting. The lesson consolidates the knowledge of students gained in Grade one about the history of Mithila region.

Mithila art 2; Artist credit: Mrs. Ruby Pathak and team

Two Mithila artworks are provided for this lesson. The first art (see Mithila art-2) demonstrates the development of Mithila art from the past to the present days. The art also presents the colours and tools that are used to paint Mithila art. The second art shows a young girl getting ready for Mithila painting. The painting captures all the tools, colours and paper that are required for preparing Mithila art.

Grade 3

For Grade 3 students, the lesson presents cultural festivals and ceremonies from the Mithila region. The Mithila region is rich with traditional cultures and festivals. The aim of this lesson is to strengthen the student’s knowledge (learned at Grade one and two). Students will learn about the cultures of the Mithila region and how these cultures have been presented through Mithila art.

Mithila art 3; Artist credit: Mrs. Ruby Pathak and team

The first art prepared for this lesson shows different Mithila cultural ceremonies and festivals. The second piece of art in the lesson shows the oldest form of Mithila art that people would use in cultural festivals and ceremonies (see Mithila art 3, above) .

Grade 4

The lesson prepared for Grade four students aims to develop creative thinking to identify different forms of past popular Mithila art. The lesson also discusses the types of Mithila art that the young people are interested in, in contemporary times. Students will learn to use Mithila art for expressing ideas around presenting a village and a city. This lesson focuses on the productive use of Mithila arts.

Mithila art 4; Artist credit: Mrs. Ruby Pathak and team

Three illustrative Mithila artworks have been provided for this lesson. The first is the traditional ‘Aripan’ Mithila art. The second is the modern form of painting, which is popular among the youth of the Mithila region. The third painting presents the surroundings of one school in Laxminiya rural municipality, showing the school building, students and their teacher, and their natural environment (see Mithila art 4).

Grade 5

The Mithila art lesson for Grade five emphasizes the creative use of Mithila arts for challenging some of the norms that existed in society. The lesson uses Mithila art through a transformative and adaptive way to help promote the creative use of arts for social transformation. For example, a traditional Mithila painting would depict a marriage ceremony (showing the different rituals of marriage), whereas this lesson aims to create health awareness on how to support a woman during pregnancy and birth.

Mithila art 5; Artist credit: Mrs. Ruby Pathak and team

The second illustrative art prepared for this lesson shows a traditional type of Mithila painting that is popular in the marriage ceremony. The second art is a modern type of Mithila art that presents the lives of Mithila women (from schooling to her professional life, acknowledging that all make a home). The third painting is designed for fostering students’ creative thinking and using Mithila art for social transformation. It shows the dutiful and caring role, a husband should provide for his wife during pregnancy (see Mithila art 5).

The local curriculum is currently under review with the local education authorities and planned to be piloted in the coming months.